• Digital Transformation

The Institution of Structural Engineers

Digital transformation for global membership organisation

Brief

The Institution asked us to create a web-based application to help them automate and streamline their processes for managing candidates' exam papers (including distributing, marking, adjudicating and providing feedback). The new app would mean they could spend less time and money on each paper as we tailored the process to make sure staff productivity increased at every stage. 

Solution

Once we had explored and developed the idea conceptually, we realised that to manage the large amount of data quickly and efficiently, the system would need to be developed in four parts: candidate distribution and management, a PDF script viewer, an adjudication application, and a feedback application. Then we set about designing the app.

What we did

  • Digital transformation
  • DEVELOPMENT
  • DIGITAL STRATEGY

The world's largest membership organisation

IStructE is the world’s largest membership organisation, with over 27,000 members in 105 countries around the world. It offers a range of qualifications, with several exam periods each year, resulting in thousands of exam scripts to process. The entire examination process was previously handled manually. Paper scripts were scanned and sent to examiners who had to print and mark each one. It was a long-winded, cumbersome process.

Candidate Distribution and Management

The first area we developed would allow the exam manager to distribute multiple candidates to examiners then track and monitor an individual candidate’s progress. They could also resolve any issues the examiners had raised with a script more easily, and it started to make the process of managing the exams quicker and simpler.

A PDF Script Viewer

The viewer gives examiners a high-resolution PDF view of a script and provides them with a simple system for marking and providing feedback on each question. Through the viewer, examiners can also notify the exam manager of any issues with a paper at this stage or allow the exam manager to upload marks on behalf of examiners.

An Adjudication Application

The next step we looked at is adjudication. Some exam scripts have to be adjudicated and the adjudication application meant those papers could be distributed and managed easily by the exam manager. By automating the process, we significantly cut down on the administration time Institution examiners had to spend sending scripts that need adjudicating back and forth and on managing the overall system.

A Feedback Application

Lastly, the Feedback Application was designed to enable exam managers to provide feedback to candidates and a breakdown of their marks if they requested them. The app needed an area where the exam manager could load the examiners’ comments and marks, then save, preview and send a feedback email directly to the candidate from the web application. Again, saving more time and streamlining the process.

Pulling it all together

There was clear scope to create a single web application to give the online marking system the feel of a native application, allowing users to switch between views quickly and efficiently. For this, we needed to break the requirements down into several view states and built the frontend system based on these views. We quickly developed a .NET API to communicate with the Institution’s backend system, and an Angular JS frontend system to handle the large amounts of data being passed through the system in the most efficient and lightweight way possible. 

And the results?

The finished system includes all of the functionality the Institution asked for and gave them a much slicker, more efficient and less costly system. We purposely built scalability into the app, so that IStructE can offer, manage and process more exams each term if they want to without needing to significantly increase their resources. And, by making staff more productive at each stage of the process, the app has already provided a healthy ROI.

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